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Ind Vs Pak World cup semifinal was fixed claims Sports Illustrated Magzine

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Dial ‘M’ For Match-Fixing
Posted on May 6, 2011 by yahoocricket

The Sports Illustrated India issue on match-fixing which hits the stands on May 7.
Innocence, like virginity, can be lost only once.

Cricket – the players, the administration, the fans, the game itself – lost its innocence on April 7, 2000, when New Delhi police officials accused then South African captain Hansie Cronje of colluding with bookmaker Sanjay Chawla to fix the one day games with India played in March of that year.

Any hymenal vestiges were swept aside in the months that followed, thanks to the revelations from a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in India; the report of the Justice Qayyum commission in Pakistan; the serial naming of players from around the world and their almost ritual ‘clearing’ by the respective boards, and finally by the spot-fixing expose of last year that resulted in bans of varying durations imposed on three Pakistani players.

All of which is why the latest media story on match-fixing – Dirt in Cricket, a Heena Zuni Pandit-authored cover story for the latest issue of Sports Illustrated India – comes without the sort of shock value earlier exposes such as the one in Outlook over a decade ago or the subsequent one in Tehelka engendered.

It is not that the Sports Illustrated India story is not shocking in and of itself – it is merely that we have lost the capacity to be shocked; in fact, watching cricket with half an eye on possibly “fixed” moments has become a parlor game for the fan. And yet this latest story, in the Sports Illustrated India issue that will be on stands countrywide May 7, is important both for what it contains, and for what remains as yet unrevealed.

The Rs 400 Billion World Cup

Voice: Arre, us match ka patha chala aapko?
Sports Illustrated India: Kis match ka?

Voice: India-Pakistan ka. Humein ek message aaya tha, Bihar ke ek politician ka. Kaha, ‘Sir, yehi sahi time hai paisa lagane ka. Ab nahin lagayenge to kab lagayenge? Rs 200 crore pahuncha diya hai.’

SI India: Achcha, kaun sa politician tha?

Voice: Ek hai, Bihar mein.


The above conversation was, SI says, recorded on March 31, a day after the India-Pakistan semifinal at Mohali; the unnamed ‘Voice’ belongs to a politician from a national party who has a residence in Delhi and a scrapyard business in Bombay.
It was a casual meeting of politician-punters who had made a few lakh apiece betting on the game – spare change in comparison with the vast sums that routinely change hands during cricket matches, but at another level an indication of just how pervasive betting – a supposedly illegal activity in this country – has become. A subsequent conversation, the transcript of which is not provided in the story, revolves around how Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi consistently refuses to play ball with bookies, but also of how four Pakistan players had been paid to underperform.

What we had learnt back in 2000, in exchange for our rudely ruptured innocence, is that “match-fixing” is not what we naively imagined it was: a case of a bookie buying up entire teams to under-perform. That was a scenario that strains credibility; hence our violent rejection of the notion when it first surfaced.

Rather, we learnt, bookies buy the “services” of individual players to perform specific tasks: bowl a bad over or a bad spell; “struggle” with the bat and get out at or below a specified score, etc. Cricket is a game of moments, each seemingly mundane yet holding within its occurrence the possibility of changing the course of the game at a later point. And it is those moments bookies seek to fix.

For those in the book-making business, it is a double whammy: punters bet more on moments, on small possibilities, than on outcomes, and therefore knowing what a particular player will do helps bookies shade the odds and make a killing.

At a larger level, knowing that two or three or four players of one side will, at critical moments, under-perform gives the bookie a near-certainty that the side in question will lose the game. It is not a dead cert – one of the “unfixed” players could well turn in a game-changing performance. But the odds are certainly in favor of the possibility that if four key players in a team of 11 perform at below par, a defeat is likely. And that is good enough for the bookie.

The India-versus-Pakistan game did not, therefore, have to be fixed in its entirety. All it would have taken was for a few players of one side to have been bought – and that is the scenario the SI India cover story surfaces.

Another vignette relating to the World Cup – and we quote verbatim from the story: “According to the version of a group of journalists who met several hours before the India-West Indies World Cup match in Chennai (a day-nighter), they hadn’t even finished breakfast when they were told that bookies had already declared that Chris Gayle would not be playing in the game.

“Until that moment, there had been no indication to the mediapersons – cricket reporters all – accompanying the team that there was anything wrong with Gayle, or that he would be skipping the match. A few hours later, the news was confirmed. Gayle did not play. Someone in the know had already passed on that information.”

The India Connection

SI India: OK. And you are sure about these two, **** and ****? [Two players whose names have been removed.]
Bookie: Haan. Inse meri khud baat hui hai. (Yes, I spoke with these two myself)

SI India: Okay. Kya baat hui thi? Ek baar bataaiye. (Okay. What was the conversation about? Tell us please)

Bookie: Jo tape mere paas thi, usme toh ek argument tha. (On the tape I had, there was an argument)

SI India: Jab woh shuru hota hai tape, toh usme first voice kiski hai? (When the tape began, who's was the first voice on it?)

Bookie: First voice humaari hai. Jab tak hum kuch bolte nahin, woh saamne se kuch nahin bolta. (We spoke first. As long as I didn't speak, no one spoke from their end either)

SI India: Aap mein se kiski hai? Sunilji ki? (And who from your end? Sunil?)

Bookie: Nahin, Tinku ki. Do tapes hain. Tinku ne kaha ki... [pauses] (No, Tinku. There were two tapes. Tinku said...)

SI-India: 1st tape mein Tinku ne kaha ki... (What did Tinku say on the first tape?)

Bookie: Theek hai sab kuch. Hum paise bhijwa dete hain. Baaki saari baat pehle decide ho chuki thi, phir jab usne commitment poora nahin kiya, toh doosri baar unhone mujhe kaha ki phone laga aur pooch.

Maine kaha, “Sir kya hua? Ye gadbad kaise ho gayi? Hum toh mar gaye!’ (Everything is fine. We'll send the money. Everything else had been decided in advance, but when he didn't fulfill the commitment, then he (Tinku) told me the second time, you call and ask what happened. I said, "Sir, what happened? How did this get messed up? You've ruined us".

SI India: Direct **** [Player’s name] ko phone kiya? (You called **** [Player's name removed] directly?

Bookie: Haan. Toh woh bola, ‘Behen ke... phone rakh.’ (Yes. And he said, "Sister@3@#@#, hang up..."

SI India: Phir? (And then?)

Bookie: Phir agle din uske kisi acquaintance ka phone aaya ki aise-aise ho gaya tha. ‘***’ [Reference to a BCCI official removed] gadbad kar diya. Usse pata chal gaya tha toh usne dressing room mein kaha ki aisa kuch karne ki koshish nahin karein or isiliye hum paise wapas kar rahe hain’. (Then the next day, an acquaintance of his called. He said, **** [reference to a BCCI official removed] messed it up. He found out that something was on, so he came to the dressing room and said, don't try anything, which is why we are returning the money'.)

The SI India cover story is based, they say, on 400 minutes-worth of taped conversations. The above is one of them; what is said is scary, what has been redacted (the names of the players) is incendiary, since rather than two named players now being viewed with suspicion, we are now forced to view the entire team with a measure of distrust. ‘Is he the one?’, we will go in a corner of our minds every time a set batsman gets out to a silly shot, or a bowler operates below par, or a fielder muffs a sitter.
Some of the conversations whose transcripts do not appear in the story refer to team information being available to a middleman via a top player agent.

Again, this merely confirms what is widely known within the cricketing fraternity: that privileged information, in the world of cricket, is worth cold hard cash.

The world scoffed when it was first revealed that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh had received monetary considerations from bookies, during Australia’s 1994 tour of Sri Lanka, in return for passing on innocuous information about the weather and the pitch. ‘Why would anyone pay for information they can get just by looking out the window?’, was the amused reaction.

It seemed improbable – until you realized that the initial payment for innocuous information was merely the bait. Once a player accepts money in exchange for information, the pattern is set; from that point on, the demands for information increase exponentially, and the cricketer who has compromised himself once finds it impossible to resist. Innocence resembles virginity in this as well – it is all or nothing; there is no such thing as a little big innocent.

The business of information has increasingly become organized, with kingpins (controllers of the bookmaking business, to whom individual bookies pay tithe) at one end and players at the other, and cut outs built into the process to shield the identities of the players concerned.

Typically (and this moved from guesswork to fact when, last year, the spot fixing story involving three Pakistani players broke in London), it is the increasingly powerful player agent who serves as the cut out. He has access to the player at all times, and thus is in a position to routinely gather information and, away from the scrutiny of the ICC’s anti-corruption sleuths, pass that information on to the bookies and their kingpins.

And that brings up the India connection in the Sports Illustrated India story. Quote:

“What is worse, in many ways, is that local bookies and middlemen either claim to know players personally, or know their agents very well. In one conversation, a top Delhi bookie’s sidekick informed us that he had called up a senior player during a T20 international because of a Rs 5 crore spot-fixing deal that had fallen through.

“While we were not privy to him calling up the player in question, the player’s personal numbers he had were correct and some of the details and team information he had were startling.”

SI India goes on to connect the dots, adding fact to supposition to make its case. Quote:

“Separately, a top BCCI official told SI that the same player (who the bookie claimed to have spoken to) was also warned that he was being “watched carefully” during the Indian Premier League’s second season in Africa.

The IPL Connection

On April 17, in course of an ICC meeting in Dubai, the BCCI agreed to the offer of having the global body’s anti-corruption wing provide cover for the IPL. And thereby hangs a tale.

When the IPL – with its mega-buck auctions, its dugouts where players and owners sat together while games were in progress, its after-hours parties open to anyone who could pay the price of admission, and where players had their pick of girls rendering “hostess” and “escort” services and whose tabs were picked up by anonymous others – was first launched, the likes of ICC president Haroon Lorgat and ACSU chief Paul Congdon had warned that the freewheeling nature of the tournament could result in the sort of corruption that, in an earlier era, had given Sharjah a bad name.

Those warnings were dismissed off hand, as coming from outsiders “jealous of India’s success”. And in this context, it is pertinent to mention that there were, still are, sections of the establishment around the world that wants nothing more badly than for the IPL to fail, as such a failure would open up opportunities for the boards of other nations.

The essential logic behind the warnings of Lorgat and Congdon were however indisputable – and unlike the case with Sharjah, there was now a solution handy: ensure that the IPL was brought under ACSU cover, as happens with all ICC-sanctioned tournaments.

In public, the subject was not discussed. In private, the BCCI dragged its feet – until the story finally broke that the BCCI had refused the ACSU’s services. At this point, the BCCI put on its characteristic air of injured innocence, and said the ICC’s charge of $1.2 million to provide ACSU cover was too steep a price to afford.

To put that “steep price” into perspective, it is pertinent to mention that the BCCI had for the financial year 2007-2008 declared an overall income of around $210 million.

Finally, when the subject was raised during the Dubai meeting, the BCCI finally okayed the ACSU cover – just two days before the start of the league, and thus too late for the ACSU to effectively deploy. It was no secret that various state-level officials of the Indian board were perplexed, to put it mildly, at how the BCCI had handled the whole affair.

Here is a quote from the SI India story:

“Some BCCI officials were very concerned by the free access to players, national and international, during that second season (in South Africa). Several known shady characters based in the Middle East, but not seen in India, flew into South Africa and booked rooms in the players’ hotels, both during last year’s Champions’ League and the IPL’s second season,” an official told SI India.

“Another said he had ticked off a top India player’s agent, telling him to “stay away” from him when the agent came to invite him for an event in South Africa.”

So Now What?

Prima facie, the SI India story, a copy of which was provided to Yahoo prior to publication, does not appear to amount for much:

The possibility that the World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan, or portions thereof, was fixed;

The information that vast sums of illicit money changed hands during the World Cup;

The suggestion that politicians of varying degrees of prominence were part of the loose confederation of those who make illegal profits out of cricket;

A question mark about the sudden exit of Chris Gayle from the playing eleven in a World Cup game against India;

A question surrounding an India player and his agent who had apparently done enough to cause even the BCCI – notorious for its Three Monkeys-style inability to see, hear, or speak to any wrongdoing – to issue a warning;

A reference in course of a conversation (whose transcript is not part of the story) to a national selector who received unspecified favors in return for bringing a particular player into the national team.

Neither individually nor collectively does any of this amount to much, in the eyes of cricket fans who, having been serially shocked by revelations of far greater voltage over the course of the previous decade, have built up immunity to such revelations. And yet, there is – in a dog that did not bark sort of way – a hidden significance to this SI India cover story, and that significance lurks in the mention that the magazine is in possession of 400 minutes of taped conversations relating to illicit activities on the fringes of the cricket field.

Here’s the money quote, edited for size:

“Over the last six months, SI India has met, individually and collectively, with over half a dozen known bookies, players, agents and officials, and watched from the sidelines as investigative officers across agencies conducted undercover operations into organized betting syndicates and worked on tip-offs with regard to spot-fixing before and during the World Cup.

“…SI India has taped many of these conversations with bookies and police officers, and while the tapes are authentic, some of these tapes are yet to be verified – it is still an ongoing operation – which is why names have not been printed. We have informally offered officials of both the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India access to these recordings to take this further as they please.”

When this issue of SI India hits the stands (at the moment of writing this, that is still some 12 hours away), we can expect a flurry of denials accompanied by ‘explanatory’ conspiracy theories.

The Rs 400 billion question is, what action will the ICC/BCCI take? Will the two governing bodies, national and global, take up the SI offer, examine the contents of the tape, and use that to spark their own investigations?

And – tantalizing prospect – what fresh revelations will come from the SI India stable, once the “ongoing operation” is completed, and the tapes are thoroughly mined for information and insight?




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Sports Illustrated India claims to expose bookies


NEW DELHI: Sports Illustrated India, a leading sports magazine, claims to expose "dirt in cricket" in its latest issue which features conversations with bookies.

The magazine claims that bookies have taken names of Indian cricketers as well but refused to publish those, saying it will share all the material gathered with the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

The magazine said that a senior BCCI official told their reporter how there were serious concerns over unsavoury characters hanging around the players in the second edition of the IPL, that took place in South Africa, and also during the Champions League.

"Several known shady characters based in the Middle East, but not seen in India, flew into South Africa and booked rooms in the players' hotel," the official was quoted as saying by the magazine which hit the stands tomorrow .

"It's not that we are unaware of the situation or the rumours," added an ICC official.

"We also get any number of tip-offs and see which ones seem more serious. There's so much access [to players] that it's difficult to control everything," he added.



Sports Illustrated India claims to expose bookies - The Times of India
 

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‘Cricket Tends To Protect Its Secrets’
Posted on May 6, 2011 by yahoocricket
Kadambari Murali Wade, editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated India, speaks of their forthcoming issue on match-fixing in cricket. She touches upon how they tapped into the world of bookies, the shocking truths which emerged from their investigations, and what they plan to do with the 400-odd minutes of taped conversations.


Kadambari Murali Wade, Editor-in-Chief, Sports Illustrated India
Based on your findings, would you say that despite the Cronje shake-up and the more recent punishment handed out to three Pakistan players, is there still rampant corruption in cricket?

Based on our findings, I would say there is cause to believe that there is corruption in cricket because of easy, often unrestricted access to certain players and player agents. How rampant that is, is something that cricket's authorities would be better placed to find out, if they are so inclined.

The story hints that some BCCI functionaries are actively battling corruption while others are tacitly encouraging it. Is the BCCI divided on the issue of corruption?

This is a question for the BCCI really, about whether the BCCI is a divided house on this, it would be unfair of me to make a sweeping generalisation on the BCCI's thought process as a group. One of the officials quoted in the story told us that when he was "extremely unhappy" at the access to players during the IPL's second season in South Africa and some of "characters hanging around hotels". About encouraging it, yes, there is every indication that certain cricket officials do not discourage the presence of known middlemen, and people acknowledged to be bookies or having links to bookies.

How much, according to you, are player agents contributing to this corruption? Do you have the sense that agents are operating without the knowledge of the players, or are the players themselves complicit?

From what I've heard, on these recordings, in countless conversations with people to try and verify some of the recordings, and otherwise, over years covering cricket, player agents in India have a lot to answer for. The BCCI chooses to ignore them, but that isn't a solution. Player agents manage these young men who make and can make crores, their backgrounds need to be verified, why isn't anyone checking to see if they are qualified to act as managers, and to offer financial, emotional, ethical advice to players? It sometimes seems that anyone can become an agent, you just need to be on first name terms with a player, or his buddy. That's not the way it should be. It isn't fair to the players or to the game.

I can't really answer the other part of your question, as there are many players who haven't been referred to at all in these conversations. A few have, repeatedly, so while we haven't named them because we don't have proof of their complicity in anything unethical, I think it's safe to say they do raise some red flags and could perhaps be watched/advised that perception is everything.

Your reporter Heena Zuni Pandit spent close to six months on this story. Did you have any apprehensions in involving a young, female reporter with such shady characters as bookies?

Yes, I have been really worried! Honestly, when we first discussed the story in October, we didn't know where it would go. Zuni's story actually began with a chance recorded conversation she overheard, between a bookie and a top player. Till then, we hadn't seriously considered that there was any real truth to rumours all cricket reporters hear. We then sat her down before we gave the investigation the go ahead and talked it over, the pros, the cons, the potential dangers. Unfortunately, as she was undercover, no one else could accompany her, as it might have looked suspicious, but she's been really sensible, informed us about exactly where she was going every time she went somewhere, kept her cellphone charged and called in after every meeting and told us she was okay. At other times, she wasn't alone, there were cops around, in mufti, so it was okay. But yes, I think Zuni showed tremendous courage, enterprise and a dogged perseverance in going after this story.

Please tell us about the process of the story, and the difficulties faced by Zuni.

I think I've covered part of this in the previous answer. But as part of the processes, we tried to double-check everything, whatever we have was recorded. What we couldn't, we didn't mention. There are lots of things on tape that we hope someone in authority will want to at least hear and then probe further. We've also left out player names mentioned because unless you actually catch them in the act, it's not fair to say something. We have mentioned Afridi by name though, because it was fascinating that more than one bookie told us he couldn't be touched, he was clean. Given how Pakistan has suffered in the recent past, this was a nice change.



Sports Illustrated India's forthcoming issue on match-fixing
Your story mentions an umpire. Are the enforcers of the game’s laws also prone to corruption?

The umpire came up in conversation several times as a close friend of a top Delhi bookie. He was the only umpire mentioned by name in this particular context.

You have informed the BCCI and the ICC about your findings. What is their response?

We have not officially asked either the BCCI or the ICC for comment. That's their call, it's ours to report the story, theirs to let us know what they think, if they so wish. What we have done, is informally inform people in both the ICC and the BCCI, as a courtesy, that we are pursuing this story at various stages of the investigation, the earliest being in December 2010. As we have spoken to a few officials during the process of fact-checking, they were aware that we were following this story. We are happy though, to provide copies of the recordings to anyone in the BCCI/ICC for verifying their authenticity or to take it further, if they are inclined to do so.

Your story mentions an Indian player or players involved in nefarious activities. Why were they not named?

Players were not named simply because we did not catch them in the act, we heard recordings. Which is why, in the excerpts of transcripts published, we have deleted the names. In the case where we made a reference to an India player in the story, we mentioned that his state coach had asked his Ranji team-mates to stay away from him when they were in Delhi, because of the company the player kept. We got that from the coach, who didn't want to be named, understandably, because cricket tends to protect its secrets.

You have 400 minutes of taped conversation. But the story only has a small clip besides sanitised references of these conversations. Is there any reason for keeping much of the detail out of the story?

The story actually has a few transcripts, not a word changed, which is also why we've kept the Hindi stuff. It's a difficult story to double-check, so we've done what we could and printed that part, which is also why there are some references that would be obvious to many people. We've kept quite a few transcripts and details out because we'd like to turn the recordings over to any interested authorities, whether cricket officials or the police, to take it further, and for legal reasons.

You say in the story that your investigation still continues. What next?

We'll let you know when we're ready!


‘Cricket tends to protect its secrets’ | Yahoo! Cricket Blog
 

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Former sri lankan player claims that final was fixed..

my view is just get ride of international games ..

IPL is the ultimate future !!
 

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Match fixing cancer still plagues the game of cricket

As far as a one-minute snippet from a conversation goes, this one is enough to send a chill down any Indian cricket lover's spine.

It forms part of nearly 400 hours of audio that Sports Illustrated's Indian edition has recorded as research for its May cover story, Cricket in a Fix.

While many in the media have been reluctant or slow to latch on to its significance, it merely confirms what many of us have known for years, that the match-fixing cancer never really went away. The conversation is of a bookmaker telling the magazine about a player having committed to fix a match.

The player did not come through and someone higher up the illegal gambling food chain asked the bookmaker to call the player and ask for an explanation.

When he did, the player abused him and hung up. The following day, one of the player's acquaintances called the bookmaker to clarify the situation.

He said that a Board of Control for Cricket in India official with suspicions of something being amiss had gone into the dressing room and issued a caution.

The player had heeded the warning and was now prepared to return the money that he had taken.

At other points in what is a detailed nine-page expose of the murky world inhabited by bookmakers and their influential patrons, an Indian cricket board official is quoted as saying that the same player had been warned during the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) — shifted to South Africa at the last minute — because of the dubious company that he kept.


There is another conversation where a bookmaker's aide tells the correspondent that he called up the player during a Twenty20 international — players are banned from using phones inside the dressing room under International Cricket Council (ICC) guidelines — to inquire about a spot-fixing deal, allegedly worth 50 million Rupees (Dh4.1 million), gone wrong.

"While we were not privy to him calling up the player in question, the player's personal numbers he had were correct and some of the details and team information he had were startling," says the magazine.

"This man, incidentally, is not remotely connected to cricket in any obvious way — he is not a player, a sports agent, a sponsor, an official, a media person, a PR rep, a relative or a friend of a player or even a fan. To him, as he says, it's business."

Over the coming days, those of the three-monkeys persuasion — "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" — will either ignore the story or claim that it is an attempt to rock a happy World-Cup winning boat.

But Sports Illustrated is not some third-rate tabloid or a television channel with a ratings agenda. Both the editor and deputy editor have won awards for cricket journalism in India and have toured with the team for years.

Instead of going on the defensive and getting into a head-in-the-sand pose, ostrich style, Indian cricket needs to start making some tough calls.

The first of them concerns the IPL, and the access that dodgy individuals have to players. Certain board functionaries were greatly perturbed during the league's South African season because they had virtually no control over whom the players associated with.

"Several known shady characters based in the Middle East, but not seen in India, flew into South Africa and booked rooms in the players' hotels, both during last year's Champions League and the IPL's second season," says an official quoted in the SI story.

The second, and biggest, decision has to be with regard to player agents. A lot of "agents" are nothing more than third-rate chancers, with the potential to drag players down the route that the News of the World's hidden cameras exposed last August.

Sports agency is a profession like any other. To be one in the National Football League in the United States, you have to pass a written exam. England's Football Association has 16 pages of rules and regulations that player agents must follow. What guidelines are in place to monitor players' managers in India? Nothing.

It is a seedy free-for-all where opportunists with little or no connection to any sport are quick to cash in once a player makes a mark.

Like vultures, they circle around, with the younger players especially vulnerable. A senior journalist who covered the 2008 Under 19 World Cup - Virat Kohli captained India to victory - wrote of how a small group of agents had assembled there. Often, a pair of Oakley sunglasses or Nike shoes is all it takes for a starry-eyed and impressionable young kid to come under someone's influence.

SI have offered both the ICC and the Indian board access to their tapes and the other evidence that they have gathered. But no matter what emerges from an official investigation, if any, the current system cannot be allowed to continue.

No one should kid themselves with the thought that Indian players now make "enough" money to make them immune to temptation. For the greedy, or those compromised by their association with the crooked, there is no such thing.

Full: Match fixing cancer still plagues the game of cricket - The National
 

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